Common wisdom goes something like this: work hard and success will follow. But as we've all witnessed, that's not always the case. While the disconnect is often explained away by “luck” bestowed on a seemingly select few, science reveals otherwise and the reason can be surprising: Success, as it turns out, is not a direct result of our achievements, but instead an indirect reaction to how those achievements are perceived and valued by those around us. As Barabási puts it, “Success isn't about you, it's about us.”
Through lively stories and a look at data from all quarters of our pop culture and business lives-bestselling authors and books; the trajectory of Tiger Woods; the best paid physics professor; a parade the newspapers thought was for Einstein but wasn't; the rise of Google's search engine; singer Darlene Love's career from backup singer to star at the age of 70; why for women being “team players” comes with a bigger price than it does for men; Kickstarter campaigns and more-he shows the underlying mechanics at work and why we respond to certain kinds of performances the way we do.
Barabási's research also offers a hopeful perspective on the wider potential power of understanding the mechanics of success. An example: data showed that in auditions for orchestra positions there was a bias against female applicants. An individual can't alter their chances inside this data point and reality-but systematic change is possible. And it has been implemented. Thanks to raised awareness of the tendency, auditions are now largely held behind a screen
Peterthe autograph collector
Giuliathe foodome researcher
Jozsefthe food mathematician